An overview of the causes of dyscalculia and its impact on learners’ arithmetic ability


  • Dineo Charmaine Molise University of Johannesburg
  • Luneta Kakoma University of Johannesburg



dyscalculia, mathematics comprehension, medical, psychological, environmental factors


Some children experience severe struggles in understanding mathematical concepts. A condition called ‘dyscalculia’ impairs learners’ capacity and limits their ability to perform and comprehend a mathematical concept. This study identifies factors that contribute to the weak academic performance by learners in mathematics. An empirical approach was used to gather data from a mainstream school and a special school. Interviews were conducted with teachers, occupational therapists, and learners. Virtual interviews included doctors and educational psychologists. The study revealed that learners' ability to learn and comprehend mathematics is influenced by medical, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. The consociate of the factors responsible for mathematical learning could raise awareness and provision to tackle the difficulties of mathematics teaching and learning. The study proposes further research around the development of mathematics curriculum underpinned by teaching and learning materials that accommodate the learning capabilities of learners with dyscalculia. 

Author Biographies

Dineo Charmaine Molise, University of Johannesburg

Dineo Charmaine Molise is an educator who specializes in teaching young children in the foundation phase. Her research interests are focused on early childhood mathematics and learning disabilities, specifically dyscalculia. She has written an article on the causes of dyscalculia and has presented her findings at the AMESA conference, as well as the University of Johannesburg Postgraduate Conference. Additionally, she has a keen interest in coding and robotics and how these technologies can be utilized to support learners with dyscalculia. 

Luneta Kakoma, University of Johannesburg

Luneta Kakoma is a National Research Foundation (NRF) South Africa rated researcher and Professor of Mathematics Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg. His research interest is in Mathematics Teachers Education at Secondary and Elementary school; Mathematics/ numeric cognition and Professional Development and Mentorship of Mathematics Teachers. He has taught mathematics and physics in various Northern and Southern African countries, the UK and the US and been appointed visiting professor at various universities. He has published five books, over 100 book chapters and articles in accredited journals and been invited keynote speaker at various international forums on mathematics and mathematics education and research. He is the Editor in Chief of the African Journal of Teacher Education and Development.


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How to Cite

Molise, D. C., & Kakoma, L. (2024). An overview of the causes of dyscalculia and its impact on learners’ arithmetic ability. The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning, 19(1), 124–144.

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